Archive for the ‘infrastructure’ Category

Vietnam: Japanese investors worry about inadequate infrastructure

December 2, 2008

Some 78% of Japanese businesses said roads in Vietnam need to be improved while 60% said the power supply and 45% said seaports need to be upgraded.

VietNamNet Bridge – The Japan Bank for International Cooperation’s (JBIC) survey in the 2008 fiscal year reveals that Japanese investors continue to worry about underdeveloped infrastructure in Vietnam, particularly roads, ports and power systems.

JBIC’s survey was compiled based on 620 questionnaires collected from Japanese companies overseas. According to the survey, 2008 is the third consecutive year that Vietnam ranks third among countries and regions that have medium-term business potential, after China and India.


Low labour cost is still the main reason why Japanese investors see Vietnam as a country with investment potential. Other elements include market development potential, risk diversification, and abundant human resources.


However, according to Matsuda Noriyasu, chief representative of JBIC in Vietnam, many Japanese investors say labour costs in Vietnam have increased and become a new concern.


Notably, only 48% of Japanese businesses appreciate the “market development potential” of Vietnam, compared to 53.4% last year.


Matsuda Noriyasu said Japanese companies continue to worry about underdeveloped infrastructure in Vietnam, especially roads, ports and power. “This is the most serious matter to Japanese producers,” JBIC’s survey noted.


Some 78% of Japanese businesses said roads in Vietnam need to be improved while 60% said the power supply and 45% said seaports need to be upgraded.

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As a road to a better economy, an old idea gains ground

November 9, 2008

Building roads, bridges, power plants and other infrastructure builds jobs, pours concrete and makes the economy grow….China is considering a massive infratructure imporvement project right now….


Often dismissed in favor of the quick-jolt stimulus, spending on bridges, streets and sewers is on the table again. Obama backs the public works idea, an echo of the FDR era.
By Richard Simon and Jim Puzzanghera
The Los Angeles Times
November 9, 2008
Reporting from Washington — As recently as a few months ago, the idea of trying to bolster the troubled economy by pumping money into public works projects such as roads and bridges was dismissed as too slow — not the quick pick-me-up that was needed.

But today, economists and policymakers are beginning to change their minds.

Most experts still think infrastructure spending is a slower way to put money in consumers’ hands than simply mailing out government checks the way President Bush did over the summer. What’s changed is that the economic crisis now looks to be so deep and likely to last so long that a stimulus plan that pumps out benefits for months and years seems to fit the situation — with the added bonus of providing long-term benefits to the country.

Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park were built with federal dollars during the Great Depression

“Now we’re in a situation where it looks like we’re going to be in a prolonged downturn, so speed is still relevant, but it’s not the be-all end-all,” said Douglas W. Elmendorf, a former economist for the Federal Reserve Board, the Treasury Department and the Clinton White House.

Elmendorf, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, co-wrote a paper in January arguing against infrastructure spending because it was not fast-acting enough. “The concern at the time was that it would be a very sharp, short drop in economic activity, and we wanted to try to prevent that,” he said recently.

Since then, the situation has changed, Elmendorf said — becoming more dire.

Above: Germany built the “Autobahn” during the depression and before the Hitler era using federal government money to create jobs and infrastructure

Infrastructure spending, which is supported by President-elect Barack Obama, is expected to be a centerpiece of a $60-billion to $100-billion stimulus package Democrats may bring before Congress in a postelection session later this month.

Lawmakers are looking at a wide range of projects, such as building new roads and repairing old ones, improving airports, and constructing schools and sewage treatment plants. They also are considering making funding available to help transit agencies buy buses and rail cars.

The focus will be on job-producing projects that can get underway quickly.

In a new twist, Obama and congressional leaders have talked about ensuring that a good chunk of the infrastructure spending goes to “green jobs,” providing funds for energy-efficiency projects, for example, promoting growth while reducing oil imports and greenhouse gas emissions.

Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, traces the history of infrastructure spending as economic stimulus to the massive public works programs launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Depression.

“From the Works Progress Administration of the Great Depression to the Accelerated Public Works Act of 1962 and the Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act of 1976, investment in public infrastructure has created and sustained jobs in difficult economic times,” Oberstar said recently, “and it can do so again today.”

China considering 730-bln-dollar transport investment

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China considering 730-bln-dollar transport investment

November 5, 2008

China is considering a plan to invest five trillion yuan (730 billion dollars) in the transport sector in the next three to five years, state media reported Wednesday.

The investments would include roads, waterways and ports, drastically boosting previous plans for investment, the China Business News reported, citing an unnamed source.

China is considering a plan to invest five trillion yuan (US$730 ... 
China is considering a plan to invest five trillion yuan (US$730 billion) in the transport sector in the next three to five years, state media has reported.(AFP/File/Liu Jin)

The plan partly overlaps with a previously announced proposal to spend about two trillion yuan in the sector between 2006 and 2020, the report said.

“The additional funds would be able to boost domestic demand swiftly,” the source was quoted as saying.

China is ramping up construction to stimulate the domestic economy and create jobs amid a slowdown in overall economic growth.

The global financial woes were instrumental in slowing growth in the world’s fourth-largest nation to nine percent in the third quarter, the lowest in around five years.

Last month, the State Council, or cabinet, approved a plan to spend two trillion yuan on construction of new railways by 2020. About 1.2 trillion yuan had already been allocated, state media reported.


What Republicans Must Do To Have Any Chance in Four Years

November 5, 2008

When it comes to fundraising, organization and ground game, we Republicans got whipped.

Now, Republicans may criticize Senator Barack Obama for breaking his promise to accept public funding and play by the established rules, but that doesn’t take us too far. We shouldn’t kid ourselves: Democrats breaking this precedent had nothing to do with their campaign-finance principles, and everything to do with the fact they could afford to. Mr. McCain could never have competed this fall without the federal funds and, in the end, Mr. Obama simply smothered McCain, outspending him in battleground states by three-to-one, with plenty left over to compete in even Republican-leaning areas.

For years, Republicans outworked Democrats at the polls. Democrats would have opulent fund-raisers with celebrities and would bask in the glow of a lapdog media. Republicans would go out on Election Day and beat them on the ground game. Their guys wrote checks; our guys wrote letters to the editor. They knocked our values; we knocked on doors. They spoke for the people; we actually got out and spoke with the people. Conservative organizations outside the official party apparatus understood their role in a large coalition: organize, energize, and mobilize. And then we won.

By Tom Delay
The Washington Times
Victory is always the hardest thing for a successful political coalition. Economic, social and foreign-policy conservatives unite easily when brought together in opposition to tax-and-spend, pro-abortion, dovish liberals in power. After more than a decade in control of Congress and eight years in the White House, the coalition has worn thin. Conservatives of each of these stripes will always have some complaint to make against the Republican Party. But as odd as it sounds, we need not let our past victories continue to divide us.

Meanwhile, liberals of every sort are in a frenzy to get back into power, and especially to wrest the White House back from President Bush, who liberals have tried to peg as an illegitimate president all along. Democrats have not missed this golden opportunity to unite.

Liberalism’s new and impressive network of organizations — especially fund-raising, grassroots mobilization, and communications — has left in the dust anything conservatives have ever put together. Organizations like America Votes and ACORN are so closely tied to Democrat politics that they might as well be arms of the party apparatus. The George Soros-funded Shadow Party of organizations run by former Clinton administration officials and liberal leaders — the Center for American Progress, the Thunder Road Group,, Media Matters, etc. — has created a second left-leaning party free from restrictions imposed by official regulations — including McCain-Feingold.

This liberal infrastructure, which now dwarfs conservatism’s in size, scope, and sophistication, will be setting and helping to impose the national agenda for the coming years. The time has come for conservatives to wake up and smell the 21st century.

American politics as we know it ended the day Mr. Obama refused…

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Iraq earmarks $15 billion for reconstruction

November 1, 2008

Iraq has earmarked some $15 billion — nearly 25 percent of its 2009 draft budget — to help rebuild the country’s crumbling infrastructure, energy and oil facilities, the finance minister said Saturday.

But Bayan Jabr stressed those funds fall far short of the hundreds of billions of dollars Iraq needs to put its shattered economy back on its feet and appealed to foreign investors to help bridge the gap.

By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer

Speaking at a U.S-Iraqi investment conference in Baghdad, Jabr said a government study determined Iraq needs some $400 billion to upgrade its existing infrastructure and build new facilities.

An oil worker walks past an oil field in Rumaila, southern Iraq. ... 
An oil worker walks past an oil field in Rumaila, southern Iraq. Iraq said the falling oil price has forced Baghdad to cut its forthcoming 2009 budget to $67 billion. Iraq has the world’s third largest oil reserves but needs funds to develop its dilapidated infrastructure.(AFP/File/Essam al-Sudani)

“That is why we have to resort to investment in Iraq … in many sectors including electricity, oil, oil byproducts, refineries, housing, infrastructure and banks,” he said.

Jabr said Iraq’s 30 private banks are still grappling with a capital shortage, despite the government’s increased credit support.

“That is why we think there is a great chance for banks in the U.S., Europe and the neighboring countries to start joint ventures with our banks and to enter the Iraqi market,” he said. “In this way, we can give more chance to credits and to other fields.”

He said the country’s “primitive” insurance market presents a similar opportunity for foreign companies.

Iraq’s economy has recovered slowly since the 2003 U.S.-led war, and the state budget has received a boost from high oil world prices this year.

But Planning Minister Ali Baban warned that Iraq, which is dependent on oil revenues for more than 90 percent of its national capital budget, must wean itself off its oil dependence.

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Next President faces many Challenges

October 20, 2008

By Susan Page
Hattiesburg American
Why exactly would anybody want this job? The candidate who wins the White House on Nov. 4 will face the most calamitous economy for any new president since Franklin Roosevelt took over amid the Depression in 1933. He’ll assume command of the biggest wartime deployment of U.S. troops since Richard Nixon was sworn in during the Vietnam War in 1969.

Their campaign promises – Republican John McCain’s crusade against budget earmarks, for instance, and Democrat Barack Obama’s commitment to expand health care coverage – almost certainly will take a back seat at the start. They’ll be forced to turn to negotiating a new regulatory structure for financial institutions, rebuilding stock and housing markets, dealing with the partial nationalization of banks unveiled Tuesday and preventing an economic downturn from sliding into something worse.

Also on the immediate agenda: managing the reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq without sacrificing hard-won security gains, and stemming a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

“Walking into the Oval Office is tough enough when you’re facing kind of the ordinary challenges that face any president,” says Leon Panetta, a former California congressman and White House chief of staff for President Clinton. “But whoever is elected president this time is going to face a set of crises that no president has had to face in modern times.”

The public agrees: 44 percent in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday say the new president will face the most serious challenges of anyone in his position over the last 50 years. Just 14 percent call the problems no worse than usual.

Representatives of both candidates are scheduled to sit down today for the first time with the Bush administration’s “transition council” to begin planning the takeover of the government by one or the other. The FBI already has launched background investigations of dozens of aides to McCain and Obama so that some members of the president-elect’s team will have security clearances in place the morning after the Nov. 4 election.

Whatever work is being done behind the scenes, though, neither candidate has done much to prepare the public for the tough choices and long haul ahead.

Most of those surveyed predict that the candidate they support would be able to make the economy grow within two years of taking office.

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Next President’s Infrastructure Challenge

By David Goldstein, McClatcht Newspapers

As if the next president won’t have enough on his plate – with the implosion of the financial markets, two foreign wars, persistent security threats and a host of other concerns – America’s infrastructure is collapsing.

Whether major highways or inland waterways or the electrical grid or a quarter of all bridges, the nation’s physical plant needs billions of dollars in repairs.

“We’ve been relying on a patch-and-pray approach, not a strategic, more thoughtful approach,” said Casey Dinges, senior managing director of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

John McCain and Barack Obama occasionally talk about infrastructure. But whatever the next president does on a range of issues, such as the economy, the environment or homeland security, he’ll have to take it into account.

“There are new realities,” said Robert Puentes, a fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. “Energy realities. Climate realities. We need an updated infrastructure plan for this nation that meets the realities of today. We simply don’t have one.”

Other nations, meanwhile, are aggressively pushing new projects, mindful of the economic benefits of improved transit and green energy.

“They target their investments to meet those goals,” said Polly Trottenberg, the executive director of Building America’s Future, a bipartisan coalition of elected officials concerned about infrastructure. “We don’t. We divvy up the pot.”

Public officials, engineers and policy experts have been warning for years that crumbling infrastructure is a ticking time bomb.

Their fears came true when New Orleans’ levees failed in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,000, and again last year when the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour, killing 13.

The neglect, usually because of deferred maintenance, has been widespread.

A third of the nation’s major highways are in poor shape, according to the Department of Transportation. The list of unsafe dams is growing. Mass-transit systems, water treatment plants, hazardous-waste sites and more are falling apart.

The civil engineers association….

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“Cyberwar” Tests U.S. Government-Wide

March 10, 2008

By Shaun Waterman

Officials from 18 federal agencies, nine states, four foreign governments and more than three dozen private companies will take part in a cyberwar exercise staged this week by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The exercise, code-named Cyber Storm II, will run today through Thursday and is based at U.S. Secret Service headquarters in Washington. It is the second DHS biannual cyber-exercise, designed to test the ability of federal agencies and their partners in state, local and foreign governments and the private sector to respond to and recover from hacker attacks on computer networks.
“The goal of Cyber Storm II is to examine the processes, procedures, tools and organizational response to a multisector coordinated attack through, and on, the global cyber infrastructure….

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China Snow Crisis Shows Vulnerability

January 31, 2008

By Elaine Kurtenbach and William Foreman; Associated Press Writers

SHANGHAI, China Jan 30, 2008 (AP)

China’s worst winter storms in five decades have highlighted the vulnerabilities of the country’s booming economy, bringing transportation and much industry to a halt and prompting the government to deploy nearly 500,000 army troops to assist troubled areas Wednesday.

Snow and ice storms in east, central and southern China at no more than a foot of snow overall in some places have overloaded businesses, the electricity grid and other systems that normally keep the economy ticking at double-digit rates. The weather was unusual for those regions, and they were ill-equipped to handle it.

China’s already overburdened railways, coupled with an incomplete road system, buckled under the added pressure as tens of millions of Chinese….

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China advises millions to abandon travel plans

China makes heroes, martyrs of 3 killed in storm

January 30, 2008
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press Writer

BEIJING – China has made martyrs of three electricians killed while struggling to help restore power to central regions pounded by the worst winter storms in half a century.

Paramilitary police clear snow off an expressway in Nanjing, ...
Paramilitary police clear snow off an expressway in Nanjing, in east China’s Jiangsu province Wednesday Jan. 30, 2008. China sent nearly half a million soldiers to clear roads as the country struggled Wednesday to cope with winter storms that have snarled transportation during the country’s most important holiday travel period.
(AP Photo)

Premier Wen Jiabao praised them in a meeting with their families, and national television followed their funeral cortege through the city of Changsha on Wednesday.

The state-controlled media is making an all-out effort to soothe and inspire Chinese made miserable by freezing weather, power cuts and a chaotic Lunar New Year travel rush that has kept hundreds of thousands from going home for the holidays.

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China’s Communist Leaders Apologize for Gigantic Snafu In Snow

January 30, 2008

By Edward Lanfranco
The Washington Times
January 30, 2008

BEIJING — Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, with bullhorn in hand, offered early wishes for the Lunar New Year and apologies to marooned travelers as record-breaking winter storms paralyzed much of east, central and south China ahead of the holiday.
An estimated 100 million to 300 million workers in China’s large cities travel to their hometowns over a monthlong period that officially begins Feb. 7 this year and is the Chinese equivalent of Christmas.
Mr. Wen left Beijing Monday night bound for Changsha, the capital of southern Hunan province, one of the places hit hardest by winter storms.

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